His trombone slides its way across paths between notes--always finding spaces between conventionally defined sounds--so one can easily see why Steve Turre would excel in a string-heavy ensemble. And if you want to hear the evidence, here's its best manifestation. With violinist Regina Carter and cellist Akua Dixon on the nominal frontline with Turre, Lotus Flower joins the viscous, busy rhythms of drummer Lewis Nash and bassist Buster Williams with milky melodies that float and froth. "Chairman of the Board" puts on display the bop chops Turre has always made part of his option range, but it's during tracks like Rahsaan Roland Kirk's chamberesque "The Inflated Tear" and the slow blues-swing of "Sposin'" that Turre sinks his feet into harmonically woven, roundly formed musical earth. For those who found Turre's legendary Sanctified Shells his highest creative points, you'll be newly amazed after "Shorty," the set-closer that once again shows how much music can come from air blown through conch shells. --Andrew Bartlett
Shortly before Steve Turre brought this group into the recording studio, he took it to Chicago's Grant Park for an outdoor concert in front of about 5,000 drizzled-on fans, spread across several acres of concrete and dirt. Considering that the band featured the subtle sounds of cello, violin, and sea shells (not to mention a whispered turn through Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Inflated Tear"), it seemed a recipe for trouble. The crowd was first shocked, then intrigued, and finally transformed into that rarest of all things in jazz - a screaming, frenzied, ecstatically happy bunch. From the jaws of disaster, Turre snatched beauty. Now comes Turre's studio recording, in which he has polished and sharpened that beauty so that it shimmers and cuts like a sword's edge. The trombonist and shellman is joined by his wife, Akua Dixon, on cello; Regina Carter on violin; Mulgrew Miller on piano; Buster Williams on bass; Lewis Nash on drums; Kimati Dinizulu on percussion; and Don Conreax on gong. Not exactly your classic jazz combo, but give Turre credit for putting together a working band that balances the bold and the pretty, that leaps and swings at the same time. Sometimes, Turre uses his strings to simulate a full, orchestral sound, giving the illusion of dense layers and lending his soloists stunning backdrops, but, most of the time, he treats them no differently than the horns. The result is a tasteful Blend of colors. Nowhere is the group's touch better displayed than on Kirk's "Inflated Tear." Turre and his wife play with delicacy and power, while Miller's solo shimmers. Throughout, Turre's arrangements and compositions are dazzling (check out the short but sweet "Passion for Peace") - so dazzling, in fact, that it's easy to lose sight of this album's greatest strength, the bandleader's trombone. Turre can play. Listen to him rip through the "Cherokee" changes on "Blackfoot," then enjoy his chocolate-milk tone on "The Fragrance of Love," and know that you are in good hands.
--- JAZZIZ Magazine Copyright © 2000, Milor Entertainment, Inc. -- From Jazziz